We have been in Pocone with our GIEU crew for the weekend for everyone to catch up with friends/family, do some shopping, and enjoy the parties and barbecues of the gateway city to the Pantanal. Now that its at last Monday, business can start up again. This morning, GIEU is visiting a primary school in Pocone to get a feel for the public education system in rural Brazil. After lunch, Ethan and I are visiting the Secretary of Education, Neca, with Eduardo and his wife Jucinete to outline the operation of the school, and most pressingly to discuss bus and boat transportation. Which leads well into the countless ways that Eduardo and Jucinete have made this project possible.
Eduardo & Jucinete Falcão de Arruda
Jaguar Ecological Reserve (JER). For many summers following, Ethan volunteered at the lodge carving wood, guiding tours, making faulty bridges, and discussing with all the success of eco-tourism in the region why it was not possible to fund a school for the children in Porto Jofre and along the Transpantaneira (the road between the Jaguar Ecological Reserve and Porto Jofre). Flash forward to this past fall, after forming a dedicated team of students and optimistically planning on support for the university, Eduardo agreed to set up logistics and host us for the summer for the construction of PCER.
Now, the on-ground support - Eduardo in my mind is the mandachuva (commander of the rain and all else in Pocone and his region of the Pantanal). He is the provider of transportation, and of food and lodging for Ethan and me, our architects, and our engineers (we eat whatever Miltom makes for the tourists, needless it will be a tough transition back to college life in the fall). The land we are building on is owned by Eduardo's mother, Mariana (who now lives for the most part in Cuiaba). The electricity we use for our computers at night (modify night to early morning for the architects), the coffee we drink all day long, all comes back to Eduardo. He is also in charge of the well-being of the GIEU students - arranging the kick-off eco-tour, home-stays in the Pantanal, night spot-lighting, boat-trips, all bus transportation, and hotels in Pocone and Cuiaba.
Beyond the basic living needs covered, Eduardo has advised us on ordering construction materials, setting up the water system, and miraculously finding three recently decayed trees for our entire roof at a third of the original price.
And onwards to the education forefront, Eduardo and Jucinete have already introduced us to the former Secretary of Education of Pocone, and today the four of us will meet with the current Secretary of Education to discuss how responsibilities will be shared for the operation of the school. Rural schools are often stalled by "politica" because they are seen as a money-pit, and our goal is to present how on-going contributions from JER and PCER will keep school operation costs reasonable for the Pocone Secretary of Education.
Eduardo this afternoon has also arranged for us to return to the Pantanal with a pedreiro (construction contractor) and small crew so that James and John do not have to assemble the roof all by themselves.